How can you help support your partner through labour and the early days? Father-of-three Tom Evans provides some valuable advice.
Your baby’s birth
When it comes to helping your partner giving birth, you will need to be the carrier of everything, from bags and birth balls to the weight of expectations. Men can provide support at many levels. As you’ve seen on TV, you can help with massage, fanning her brow, helping with positions, bringing her drinks and snacks. You will need to sustain your energy throughout the night also, so remember to bring plenty of snacks, so you don’t have to go hunter-gathering when you are most needed by her side.
Support through contractions
During contractions, go with your partner’s energy and with whatever she needs at that moment. She might want to hold you, you to hold her or to stay back entirely. She will need you to trust her instincts – utterly. Birth happens more easily when the woman feels empowered. The more information you know, the better – so be ready to do the leg work and find answers to her questions. Try to leave your own anxiety outside. Adrenaline is contagious, so if your stress levels are high, she will start to get anxious too, and the adrenaline hormone halts labour. Dad needs to provide strength and support – not to add to stress and anxiety.
Empower your wife
The more empowered and trusting the woman is of herself, and of her ability to withstand pain, the less likelihood of a medicalised birth. Prepare for this – do antenatal classes or birth preparation classes to empower yourselves, such as Cuidiu antenatal classes or Gentlebirth. Remember that both men and women are designed to cope with the experience of birth since the beginning of time. Fathers bring a huge amount to the birth experience. You will never ever forget it – in every detail. It will likely be the most emotional experience of your own life. You will want to savour it forever. As well as being proud of your partner and baby, you will take pride in your achievement and your place in it all.
Help, we’re home now
1. Changing nappies are no bother once you’ve done a few. You’ll soon get the routine. Have your changing table, supplies and disposal system organised.
2. Set up online grocery shopping and home delivery. Most of the providers save ‘your favourites,’ so it gets easier and faster each time you shop.
3. Your partner will most likely be less available emotionally – be ready for that and cut her some slack. She may not want sex for weeks or months. Generally, it’s out for the first four to six weeks due to the risk of infection, bleeding, healing etc – depending on the birth. Don’t pressurise her – talk about it. Open communication is the key to building intimacy. There are other ways to reconnect – like holding, cuddling, chatting and sharing over a glass of wine when baby is asleep.
4. Sleep will be challenged. Sleep is fundamental. Sleeping patterns will be overturned. She will need to synchronise hers with the baby. Use the spare room or couch if your sleep is suffering.
5. Have lots of fun. Get on down there on the floor with the baby – it’s a great opportunity for a second childhood.
6. Look after your mental health. The first six months of each child’s life is very stressful for both parents. You need to be resourced and supported to withstand the stress and anxiety. Then you will be more available to support your partner and family.
7. Do not isolate yourself. You will need breaks also. We do not operate at our optimum when isolated. Keep in touch with friends and family, as sharing eases everything. Openness to support and asking for it are vital – for you both. Cuidiu offers women a fantastic way to meet others who are coping with exactly what you are – in a very easy relaxed way – at coffee mornings either in local cafés or someone’s home. For men, we don’t have the same ready-made solution available – so why not set up a dads group?
More like this:
Photographer captures shock of birth
Birth story: change of plan
My honest birth story